When the Bulls made the big move for DeMar DeRozan in August, it sent a signal to the rest of the league that they were all-in for the upcoming season. Skeptics were weary of the trade because of DeRozan’s fit in Chicago, while also wondering just how much he had left in the tank.
Fast forward through the first half of the season and the Bulls find themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference with DeRozan in the MVP race. Currently, the Chicago Bulls have the fourth-best odds in the East to win the NBA Finals, at +1600, according to BetUS Sportsbook.
Bulls Injuries Continue, As Does Strong Play
Like every other team in the league, Chicago has dealt with injuries, health and safety protocols, and a fluid schedule. Through it all, they have relied upon the strong play of their top three stars to keep them going in the right direction. Zach LaVine has been just as good as DeRozan over the course of the season and Nikola Vucevic has been tremendous on both ends of the floor.
Billy Donovan’s team was dealt a tough blow early in the season with the loss of second-year forward Patrick Williams. The fourth overall pick in the 2020 draft showed incredible potential in the Summer League and was poised to break out this season as a starter for this squad. His season ended after just five games when he suffered a dislocated wrist that left the Bulls in a difficult spot.
It is no secret that Williams was Chicago’s best defender, and was going to be relied upon to match up with the elite superstars like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, etc. The Bulls have exceptional depth at the guard position but they lack quality forwards that can do the things that Williams was supposed to.
Javonte Green got the first crack at the job, but his light frame was a problem inside the paint. Derrick Jones Jr had the same issue but his length and athleticism were more useful on the perimeter. Unfortunately, the 24-year old suffered a bone bruise just minutes into their showdown with the Brooklyn Nets last week and will miss a couple more weeks.
The Chicago Bulls next two games are against the Celtics and Grizzlies.
Bulls will be without Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, Tyler Cook, Patrick Williams, and Derrick Jones Jr.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) January 15, 2022
Where do the Bulls turn next? Alfonzo McKinnie and Troy Brown Jr are not the answer. Chicago might be able to get away with playing them a few minutes in these games in January but once the postseason rolls around, they won’t even be able to sniff the rotation.
Bulls Should Pursue Jerami Grant | NBA Trade Deadline
The February 10 trade deadline is less than four weeks away, and the organization will have to make something happen soon.
One of the hottest names on the trade market is actually the perfect fit for this team. Jerami Grant hasn’t played at all since December 10 but he should be the top target for Artūras Karnišovas and Chicago’s front office.
Grant has been sidelined with a thumb injury but has been playing at a high level for a rebuilding Detroit team. The 27-year old is averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and more than 1 steal and block per game this season. He is shooting a career-high 85 percent from the free-throw line and a respectable 33 percent from beyond the arc. Those are solid numbers for a guy that is at the top of every team’s scouting report.
After deciding to leave Denver for a larger role last year with the Pistons, Grant broke out in a big way. His scoring average jumped from 12.0 to 22.3 and his numbers across the board were all up significantly. He has shown outstanding improvement individually, but he lacks leadership and doesn’t appear to be a franchise player. The Pistons are building around Cade Cunningham and are clearly looking to sell high on Grant before the deadline.
In terms of his fit with this Bulls team, you really couldn’t ask for anything more. Grant cures all of their needs with his many talents and has demonstrated the ability to play with star players in a supporting role. If he is willing to go back to that, the Bulls would be legitimate title contenders without question.
Chicago is in the midst of a brutal stretch in their schedule. After winning nine straight games, the Bulls have now lost three in a row and four of their last five heading into their showdown in Memphis tonight. After losses to Brooklyn and Golden State, the Bulls dropped a tough one in Boston by two points. The worst part came early in the contest when they lost LaVine to a knee injury.
Billy Donovan, via Zoom from Boston, on Bulls at halfway mark: “I love being around these guys every day.”
Said it’s hard to judge team’s full potential because of how consistently shorthanded they’ve been. Said he fully believes in team.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 16, 2022
After tonight’s test against Ja Morant, the Bulls will face Darius Garland and the surprising Cavaliers. The length of Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Markkanen will certainly be a problem. Following that game, they will head to Milwaukee to face the defending champions.
The two teams battling the Bulls for the top spot in the East are the Nets and Bucks. Brooklyn has their “big three” led by Durant and the reigning champs have two-time MVP Antetokounmpo leading their elite trio of stars. Who do the Bulls have to throw at those two superstars? That is the question that everyone should be asking. The answer to that question will determine if Chicago is for real or not.
Bulls Trade Concerns With Jerami Grant
There are two major concerns for the Bulls in their pursuit of Grant. Nearly half of the league will be trying to acquire the prized forward, even with his injury. The competition will be fierce and Chicago may not have the necessary assets to put together the best package for Detroit.
Troy Weaver isn’t trading Jerami Grant for something unproven.
When he trades Jerami, it’ll be a significant package.
— Ku (@KuKhahil) January 12, 2022
That leads to the other issue for the Bulls. In order to have a shot at getting Grant, they will likely need to give up one or more of their key young players. Guys like Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, and Williams will factor into any trade.
One scenario would be trading away White, Brown, Jones, and a future first-round pick for Grant and Josh Jackson. That is a lot to give up but even so, it might not be the best offer Detroit receives before the deadline. Still, a starting five of Lonzo Ball, LaVine, DeRozan, Grant, and Vucevic would arguably be the best in the league.
Obviously, giving up a two-way player is never appealing but the Pistons clearly lack offensive firepower, and adding someone like White would give them a sensational young backcourt to build on for the future. If they would rather have Williams (and Chicago was willing to give up the 20-year old) that would be an ideal scenario as well, given they are not expected to win anytime soon. For Detroit, they are looking towards the future, and Williams would be a phenomenal pairing with Cunningham.
The Bulls need this move to complete their “all-in” moves from this past summer. Karnišovas and general manager Marc Eversley are serious about adding a seventh banner in Chicago. By reeling in Grant, they would have the final piece to their championship puzzle.